She flew through the dark forest, dodging scraggly branches that reached for her, claw like tips scratching her wings if she brushed too close. Her quarry was running still, long legs trying to outdistance her with an unexpected determination. Gritting her teeth, she pushed herself to the limit. She couldn't let him escape, not with what he'd taken. Not with what was at risk.
She and her sisters were bound by birthright to protect it, sacred vows taken that chained her to her purpose. It was as natural to her as blood. And now it had been stolen. Taken from its ancient resting place for the first time since being banished to this plane.
Full of purpose, she managed to pull up almost alongside him. She was the fastest, her sisters long since fallen behind. He glared at her out of the corner of his eye, unable to reach her as high up as she was. She could see the amulet clenched in his fist, the cord snapped from when he ripped it off the statue.
"Lityerses, stop this!" She shouted. "It is not too late to go back!"
He snarled in response. Ducking down, he grabbed a rock while he was running, whipping it after her. She flipped in a fast circle to dodge it, and shrieked when a second flew through the air right after. Recovering, she growled when she saw he was outdistancing her.
He cannot reach the portal... Oh, I hope to the goddess my sisters have closed it.
She resumed her fevered pace, wings aching with pain from the exertion. As fast as she was, he was so much larger than her she had to work extra hard just to keep pace. Ahead, she noticed the tree line starting to thin. The world started to lighten around them.
Despairing, she pushed herself harder. Just a little more... Ahead, she could see the soft light of the portal. Still open, accessible to all in the realm. He reached it, skidding to a stop. A chant flowed from his lips without hesitation, telling the portal what world to go too.
Hissing, she raised her arms, stopping barely a few feet away from him. The blue light swirled around her, shooting at him. He smirked, turning around in time to wave his hand through her blast. It dissipated into the air.
"My dear little Daughter of Zoë, what makes you think I am so easy to stop?" His deep voice trembled in the air. Behind him, the portal settled on a steady pulse of blues and greens. His chant had already taken effect. He stepped backward, foot in the portal. He raised his hand at her, dark energy swirling around as he redirected the excess energy of the portal. It arced at her like negative lighting.
She dodged his first blast, swirling light surrounding her. She dove down, angling for the amulet. If she could only get it away from him, this nightmare would be over...
Flipping around another blast of lightning, she missed the hand barreling at her from the side. It crushed around her the moment she released her magic, snapping her wing with ease while the sky lit up blue. He stumbled back, slipping into the portal with her still in his hands.
The world went white.
Dean woke up.
Blinking, he tried to clear his vision. It was so dark. No light came in from the window, with the shades shut tight. In the entire room, the only illumination came from the alarm clock on the nightstand, shining bright red letters with pride.
3:04 a.m. Awesome.
Wondering what had woken him at this godforsaken hour, he lay still, listening to the night. After a few moments laying there, he realized at the edge of hearing, someone was crying out. "No, not them. Please, I'm sorry... let them go... take me... NO!"
Realizing it must have been his brothers cries that woke him, Dean shifted in his bed, sitting up. It was painful to hear his brother in so much fear and panic, almost lost to the world while he suffered on in sleep. The cries continued, "No... I'm sorry... please, stop! All my fault... my fault! Take me instead..."
Dean closed his eyes, tortured by the sound of fear in Sam's small voice. Every night, the same pain. The same fear. Sam refused to admit to the nightmares during the day, stubbornly denying that anything bothered him.
Unable to sit there and just listen anymore, Dean slipped off the side of his bed. Since he'd joined up with his brother again after so many years apart, Sam had been having nightmares every night. Not a single night had passed where he didn't hear his brother crying out in fear and panic.
He flipped on the light next to him, illuminating the room in a soft glow. Dean knelt down by the nightstand, peering past the books he'd piled at the edge of the bottom shelf, placed there to give Sam some privacy. He knew it was hard on his brother, being only four inches tall in a room made for humans. Everything soared over his head, nothing was catered to his size. Sam wasn't used to being around humans at all anymore, and suddenly he was living with one, day and night. The books gave him a little separation, a little privacy, enough for him to pretend he was alone in his own room.
"Sam?" Dean called out, voice hoarse. He cleared his throat, trying again. "Sammy?"
When there was no response, only continued mumbles that were now too low to make out coming from behind the makeshift wall, Dean sighed. He carefully pulled the books out, revealing the tiny little bed hidden behind. Sam had managed to fall off it, wrapped up in his sheet and still fighting against the air. Every night he lived out his nightmare the same way. Dean gently reached forward, carefully scooping his pint-sized brother into his hand. Sam didn't resist at all, lost to the waking world. Not that he'd ever be able to stop Dean the way he was, but Dean did his best to stay mindful of Sam, knowing how much he'd hate being forcibly manhandled himself. The last thing he wanted to do was alienate his brother after finding him again so many years later.
Once he had Sam safely cupped in his palm, he started to cautiously stroke his back with a careful finger. It still shocked Dean to see Sam stretched out next to a finger that was easily the same size as him. He was far too aware of how devastating his touch could be if he gripped Sam too tight, or heaven forbid not notice Sam when he was walking one time.
Slowly, his brother started to calm down. The thrashes died off and the moaning stopped shortly after, Sam relaxing into the hand supporting him. Dean managed a smile. He was worried about how this happened to Sam every time he fell asleep. He was about to put Sam back down on his little bed when he hesitated. If he left Sam down there alone, this would only happen again. And again. The other night, Dean had woken up like this no less than four separate occasions. Tonight, a different idea came to him. That way, he might actually get some sleep.
He put all the books back on the shelf, returning it to normal. Holding the still fast-asleep Sam cupped gently against his chest, he hauled himself to his feet. Laying down on his back, he slipped Sam into his chest pocket. Sam always declared how much he hated being confined in pockets, but every time he'd fallen asleep in Dean's (mostly out of boredom when they were in a store and he had to stay out of sight), he hadn't had a single nightmare yet. Dean knew he wouldn't roll over in his sleep lying like this, so Sam would be perfectly safe. And they might both finally get some well needed rest. All the adjusting to living together again after being reunited took a lot out of a man. And it's not like Sam couldn't get out of the pocket if he needed too today, a whole different story from when Dean was standing in a store full of people.
Finally content, Dean settled down in the bed, draping a hand over his little brother for extra protection. The tiny weight against his chest reassured him as he slipped into sleep once more. Sammy was safe, and that was all that mattered.
Sunlight streamed through the blinds in the early morning air. Sam groaned in annoyance, trying to roll away from the light and go back to sleep. It was way too early to get up. His attempt didn't get him far. There was something pinning him in place.
It occurred to him that there shouldn't be any sunlight where he'd fallen asleep the night before.
Confused, Sam's eyes snapped open. He sat up. To his surprise, he found himself laying on a wide green expanse, a huge hand cupped around him, holding him gently in place. Warmth surrounded him on all sides, trying to lull him back to sleep. He'd never been so warm since shrinking down. At his size, the world was a colder place to live in, his skin too thin to warm him most nights.
Turning, he saw Dean's face turned to the side not too far from him, with a view of the underside of his chin and nose all Sam could make out from the angle he was at. Realization of where he was finally dawned on him - Sam was tucked down inside the chest pocket of Dean's shirt, serving as a makeshift sleeping bag.
For a few moments, he settled back down. He would never tell Dean this, but it wasn't so bad in here. He felt safe, and protected. As long as he'd lived at this size, that wasn't a feeling he often had. Even sleeping in his own bed in the little house he'd lived in all those years at this size, there had always been a chance of discovery and capture, the knowledge that if you let your guard down even for a moment it might be your last. But here he was, perfectly safe in a human's pocket. A human who'd never let anything happen to him. And the steady up and down motion of Dean's breathing coupled with the constant thrum of the strong heart under where Sam was laying was surprisingly calming, making his fears and insecurities seem unimportant. Here, at least, he could feel like he belonged.
The last few days had been some of the strangest in his entire life. He'd spent a lot of time with Dean as a kid, but they'd always been the same size (or at least decently close to it, compared to now where he was the size of a finger, if that). And after he'd been cursed by the witch, he'd lived with other people his size, completely avoiding the suddenly giant, dangerous humans, separated from the only family he'd ever known. This was the first time actually living with someone so much... bigger. Dean was very careful around Sam all the time, but Sam still couldn't help being nervous around him. And, on purpose or not, Dean came across as a very intimidating guy a lot of the time as well. But Sam could tell he was trying, very hard.
Still, standing on the ground with those huge boots clomping by you was not for the faint of heart. And he stood so low on the ground, it was sometimes hard to tell if Dean was looking down to see where Sam was. So far, Dean always took careful note of where Sam was standing, and always said he didn't mind staying away from Sam on the floor, but Sam wanted to get used to it, knowing he would likely spend the rest of his life this way. He didn't want Dean to have to sit down out of the way just because Sam wanted to take a walk. But... with his brother's boots alone being half the size of his old home, it wasn't easy staying cool.
Still, he had to admit it was nice to be able to interact even a little in the human world again. Remembering this was normal for Dean gave Sam a strange feeling inside - they were so completely different now. Going outside with Dean had been the first time he'd been out of the motel since being cursed. He missed the days when he was a kid, able to explore the woods with his brother with carefree abandon. And he didn't feel like he was going to end up a snack for some stray cat or a hawk while he was with his brother.
Not to mention, he'd been able to watch TV without worrying about being discovered and caught. Dean had declared movie night when he found out Sam had never seen most of Dean's favorites. He'd placed Sam on the pillow next to him, in front of the huge TV. Sitting like that, laughing at the punch lines and eating popcorn with his brother almost made Sam feel like he was normal again. He almost forgot how tiny he was while the movie was on... Dean treated him just like anyone else. Like he was normal.
Naturally, Dean had made him watch The Borrowers as soon as he'd been able to find it on the internet, children's movie or not. Sam had to admit, it wasn't too far off from what his life had been... always sneaking around, using what they could find to survive. Although the Borrowers in the movie were a bit larger than he was. And he hadn't liked watching them get trapped in jars. It was nerve-wracking to think of how easy it would be for him to end up like that.
Plus, his family had it a tiny bit easier in some ways. While the Borrowers in the movie had to worry about the missing items in the house being noticed, his family had lived in a motel. People forgot things all the time, and the people who stayed there changed constantly, making it harder for anyone to notice their presence.
The only part of the movie he had trouble with were the clothes. The clothes in the movie had been all thick and coarse, horribly uncomfortable looking, with huge buttons on them. Honestly, who was going to put a button the size of a dinner plate on their shirt? His clothes were very similar to his brother's, apart from how small they were. They were comfortable, well-worn and made to last. His adopted mother was to thank for that. She had been a master at making her own clothing, gathering thread and scraps of forgotten cloth that she would remake into perfectly sized outfits. Everything he owned had been modeled off the clothes he'd been wearing when he was cursed. She'd liked the design so much, she'd even made some for Walt the same way.
His emotions turned to the sour side at the thought of her. Losing his adopted parents was one of the hardest things he'd gone through... even harder than when he was originally cursed. They had put so much effort into helping him, had treated him as their own son the entire time he lived with them. And in the end, they'd died because of him. He sighed, burrowing down farther into the warm pocket, under the steady weight of his brother's hand for comfort.
He didn't get out for at least another half hour, enjoying the rare security he found like this with his brother. He'd never admit to Dean how much he enjoyed it in there. His brother still thought he preferred to sit on the shoulder more, and he did, but it was nice to not have to worry about constantly keeping his balance, and no fear that a sudden move from Dean would knock him off. And even though the pocket was confining, it was warm, and soft, and safe.
He was curious how he'd ended up in the pocket... the night before he remembered falling asleep in his own bed, underneath the nightstand. Dean must have moved him for some reason... somehow without Sam ever waking up or noticing, something he wouldn't expect when being picked up by a guy the size of a building. Dean might be many things, but 'subtle' wasn't one of them, compared to Sam. He couldn't even remember having his usual nightmares that night. They'd been plaguing him worse than before, each time reliving the night of his parent's death, the guilt over his failure to save them building. Over and over and over...
Trying to distract himself from these thoughts, Sam squeezed out from under Dean's hand at last, hauling himself free of the pocket. Dean didn't give any sign that he'd noticed Sam's movements, sleeping peacefully on. Sam stretched in the cool morning air, working to keep his balance on the soft ground. The steady up and down motion of the chest was conspiring with the strange texture of the ground to knock him off balance constantly.
He considered waking Dean up for a few moments before he decided there was no reason to yet. It's not like they had anything planned that day. And so far, he had no idea how Dean would react to being woken up. He didn't need to get swatted down by his paranoid brother by accident. It would ruin an otherwise perfect morning. He slipped down off Dean's chest, practically bouncing across the bed until he reached the edge of the nightstand. He hopped across the small gap, intent on the remote control lying there.
He turned on the TV, enjoying the news while his giant brother slumbered on. Since they hadn't found a new hunt yet to go after, they'd had pretty lazy days, still getting used to traveling together again. Dean checked every day for a new case for them, canvassing the towns they passed through, reading through the newspapers, checking the internet... nothing so far. Sam had started to work on catching up on everything he'd missed in the time he'd been separated from his family, learning about the different monsters his brother had fought, and even stealing some time on the laptop to read about the rest of the world when Dean was busy.
About an hour after Sam started watching TV, Dean woke up. He stretched, yawning hugely. Then froze, eyes going right to his pocket. "Sam?"
Sam hid a smile while he watched his brother panic for a few moments, patting himself down. He searched everywhere on the bed for Sam, even going so far as to check under the pillows. When Sam decided Dean had had enough, he waved, saying "Morning, sunshine!" And then grinned broadly at the apparent relief in his brother's face.
"You're awfully chipper this morning." Dean managed, clearing his throat with a half-hearted glare in Sam's direction. He brushed a hand through his short hair to straighten it. "How long you been up?" Dean asked curiously, swinging his legs off the bed.
"Not long." Sam eyed his brother up. "By the way, how'd I end up in your pocket last night? I think I would have remembered that."
"Oh. Yeah. You had another of those nightmares. I tried picking you up to calm you down, and it worked." Dean flexed his hand unconsciously, rubbing his palm with a thumb. "But then, the last time I did that you ended up having more nightmares later on, so I figured maybe you'd sleep better in the pocket. After all, you haven't had any nightmares the times you fell asleep in my pocket before."
"Dean, the longest I've been in your pocket is like an hour before. It's not like I'm gonna have a nightmare that fast."
"Hey, it worked, didn't it? I don't seem to remember you kicking me awake at all last night." Dean stood up, blocking the TV from where Sam was sitting. "I'm gonna run and grab a shower, you need anything?"
"I'm good." Sam said. He hopped back over to the bed, intent on climbing back down to his bed under the nightstand. All his belongings were down there.
Dean cocked his head, watching Sam's progress with a small smirk. "You wanna lift?"
"Uh," Sam briefly considered the height, then his wrist. He was fairly sure it was healed, but with it still wrapped, climbing down would be a bitch. "Yeah, if you don't mind."
Dean held his hand out a few inches from Sam, waiting patiently for his little brother to step on before lowering it down next to his feet. Sam stepped off, unafraid of being on the floor like this with his big brother walking around. Or at least, mostly unafraid. It was still nerve-wracking to feel the floor shake beneath him whenever Dean took a step. But he knew he didn't have to worry about his brother stepping on him at the very least, so long as Dean knew where he was.
He climbed up onto the bottom shelf of the nightstand while Dean left to do his own thing. It was at chest height for him so he didn't have a problem scrambling up. The huge stack of books sitting there blocked out most of the room from view, only letting in a little light from the room's window. It was nice to have a little room to himself, with stuff that was almost made for his size surrounding him. The only part that ruined the illusion was the stack of books sitting innocently on the edge of the shelf, towering over all Sam's stuff.
He sat on the bed, pulling out the clothes he wanted to wear from the little bag Dean had found for Sam to keep his clothes in, along with his boots. Even from here, he could feel the floor shake a little while his brother walked around. It was not going to be easy to get used to that. Not easy at all.
Any time the floor shook that way while growing up, it meant they had to be quiet and still, hiding their existence from giant humans that could easily capture them if they were discovered. That instinct was so embedded in him after all those years he could still feel his insides freeze up when Dean was walking around. And he knew he didn't want to lose that instinct completely, in case anyone but Dean ever found him. His life could end up depending on it one day.
Both brothers went through their normal morning routine. Sam had a small cup of water next to his bed that Dean left him. He used it to wash off, and to wash his clothes if he had time. And a bottlecap of water as well for a drink. He sighed, scrubbing his fingers through his messy hair. He'd have to see if he couldn't get a hold of some of Dean's shampoo for it later...
Digging through his bag, he found a small razorblade his adopted father had made for him once he hit puberty. It wasn't as elegant as what humans used to shave with, but as long as he kept it sharpened it got the job done. He found beards itchy and uncomfortable, so the last thing he wanted to do was grow one. With a steady hand, he carefully shaved off the bit of hair on his face.
A little while later, when Sam was finished with his normal morning routine, a huge thump came from right outside the nightstand. Sam peeked around the books, seeing his nothing but his brother's boots filling the opening. His breathing hitched briefly, a slight fear still present at the sheer size of them. Plus less than a week ago, seeing a human so close like that would have sent him running for cover. A brief flashback of fingers crushing his body into them hit, sending a shiver up his back. The feeling only lasted for a moment before Dean knelt down, gentle green eyes peering in from above and dispelling Sam's insecurities. "You want to come with me for breakfast?"
Sam came around the corner so Dean would be able to see him. "Uh, I'll be fine here."
Dean scowled. "You know I hate leaving you here alone. If anyone else ever finds you..."
Sam cut him off. "Dean, I'll be fine. I know how to take care of myself, you know. I lived like this for a long time without you around."
"Yeah, whatever pipsqueak." Dean rubbed his face, worry showing through his normal tough-guy facade. He pushed on to the next topic. "But one of these days you'll have to come. The food tastes so much better when it's hot off the grill."
Sam smirked. His brother had been determined to make up for all the years of Sam living off scraps by feeding him what Dean considered the necessities in life. Coffee had been the first attempt after the pizza... Sam had almost gagged the first time, trying it hot and black the way Dean liked it. Dean had cracked up at the sight, practically laughing his ass off when he saw Sam's face. After that, he let Sam have it sugared and creamed enough it almost couldn't be considered coffee anymore... but the taste was so much better. And it certainly woke Sam up. He had to admit, once it was sweetened it wasn't so bad. And Dean swore by the stuff.
Sam hoped he could get Dean to understand. "I just... it's not the same for me, you know? I either have to stay in your pocket the whole time to avoid being seen, or you find a seat in a corner no one can see into so I can come out a little, and you still have to worry about the waitress coming by and spotting me." He sighed at Dean's crestfallen look, knowing he meant well. The problem was when it came to public places full of other humans, Sam and Dean just lived in completely different worlds. "Look, I'll come with you next time, I promise."
"Deal. Anything you want me to bring back?"
"Uh, whatever you get is fine."
"Dude, you can try other things from what I get. I really don't mind."
Sam stared down at his boots for a moment before responding. "I just don't want to waste your money when I can't eat all of what you bring back in the first place," he said quietly.
"Sam, its fine. I told you not to worry about that. Money is not a problem here."
Sam waved him off. "My answer still stands. I wouldn't know what else to get anyway."
Dean sighed, rocking back on his heels. Kneeling down to see into Sam's little alcove wasn't a very comfortable position for him. "You remember what to do if anyone but me comes in?"
"Yeah, head for the hardest to reach place in the room, or try to get into the walls like at the motel I lived in."
"And how will you know it's me coming in?"
Sam sighed. "Two knocks on the door before you open it. If there's no knocks, whether it's you or not, I hightail it for cover. I can remember, you know."
"Hey, it only takes one time. Dad does the same thing when he's around."
"Just means he's as crazy as you." Sam grinned up at his giant of a brother, making a shooing gesture with his hands. He'd never admit how touched he was at how much Dean cared. Just like when they were kids. Didn't matter what Sam was now, to Dean they would always be brothers. "Dean, I'll be fine. Go get your food."
"Whatever, short stuff."
Dean stood up, disappearing from view. Sam watched the massive boots for a moment, tapping against the ground as though there was something more Dean wanted to say to him. Then they turned and thudded away, leaving him alone with his thoughts.